Where Will Jay Go?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I think this whole Jay Leno retirement thing really stinks.
For those of you who are new, let me give you a quick recap…
A few years back, Conan O’Brien’s NBC contract was up and he was getting A LOT of attention from some other networks, namely FOX. The only thing that would get him to stay? The promise of “The Tonight Show.”
So being the nice guy that he is, Jay agreed to step down from the show in 2009. Jay was hoping to avoid another debacle like he went through after the retirement of Johnny Carson (You MUST see the HBO movie “The Late Shift.” It will blow your mind and it doesn’t even tell half the story.)
But there’s just one problem with this scenario. Jay’s “Tonight Show” is still #1 in the ratings and the #2 moneymaker for the network (Only “Today” brings in more dough.). So, NBC is going to replace a guy at the top of his game with an unproven commodity just to please the unproven commodity.
See what I mean?
Now, let me say again for the record that I love Conan. I think he’s hysterical. But can you really see Triumph the Insult Dog playing to the 11:30 p.m. crowd? My parents, for example, love Jay; but I can’t see them devoting two minutes to Conan. And they won’t be alone.
The biggest beef against Jay is that he’s too mainstream (which is probably why he’s never won an Emmy), and that he tries to hard to appeal to the masses. Since when is that a bad thing? It’s hard to believe that NBC could show such little love to a guy who has done so much for them. To still be #1 with all of NBC’s primetime troubles is just extraordinary.
New NBC Entertainment Co-Chair Ben Silverman apparently recognizes the problem a lot better than Jeff Zucker did because he said he’s looking for a place for Jay at NBC after 2009. But if NBC changes its mind and reneges on Conan’s deal, it will cost them serious cash. Besides, they’re already working on Conan’s theater on the Univeral lot in Los Angeles, kicking out its previous tenant, “Desperate Housewives.” So, the possibility of a flip-flop on the issue is pretty slim. And as I’ve said before, I sincerely hope Jay lands at another network and kicks some peacock butt.
And maybe that’s going to happen…
Gossip columnist Cindy Adams reported Wednesday that Jay “does not—repeat, not—want to not be doing it anymore…He is definitely—definitely—moving to another network. Friends think he’s making a big money deal. But, he says, he’s not one to follow the money. He’s one to follow the access. The best TV airtime. The best spot.”
Who does Adams think has the inside track? FOX.
The problems with FOX are two-fold. Number one, Jay’s mainstream comedy is not really what FOX is about and FOX’s audience (mostly 18-49 year-olds) is not Jay’s audience. Second, Jay would most likely be on at 11 p.m., and I have no idea what effect that would have.
I would much rather see Jay at ABC. Of course, CBS would be the most ironic place, but it’s out of the question until at least 2010 because of David Letterman’s contract.
And all the while, as the speculation and rumor swirling begin, Jay is continuing about his business, doing his #1 show, working on his cars, and doing stand-up on the weekends.
How can you not love this guy? I know I do…